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A lot has happened in the Miami Heat’s world since losing in the NBA Finals last June.   LeBron James leaving the Heat to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers was the first stop on a long and winding road that has brought us to where Miami is now starting to resemble a consistently good team again.

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They still have a ways to go before the Heat can be considered a top team in the league, let alone the Eastern Conference, but after a season full of struggles it’s nice to see things starting to turn back in Miami’s favor.  The first half of the season was pretty rough for the Heat, at one point dropping 18 of 27 games played between early November and early January. After playing sub-.500 basketball for the majority of the season, Miami has started to look like a dependable team that can win on any given night.

The emergence of guys like Hassan Whiteside and Henry Walker combined with new additions like Goran Dragic and even Michael Beasley have given the Heat what they need to resume being a true playoff contender.  Now that Miami is finally kicking back into gear at just the right time, here are the top reasons why the Heat will make the playoffs this year.

Team Chemistry

(Source: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Source: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

One thing that has remained true with the Heat throughout the season is that they are a tightly knit group.  It all starts with the guys who have been there the longest, like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers.  As new players have joined the team during the season, the Heat remained close, friendly and dedicated to winning.  Even Bosh, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after developing blood clots on his lungs, remains close to his teammates and helps any way he can. Considering how Miami’s rotation has changed and all the different lineups that have been used since the beginning of the season, it’s pretty amazing how good the team chemistry truly is.

Big Game Experience

(Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

(Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

If there is one thing that the longer tenured Heat players can offer the younger guys, it’s big game experience.  Wade has been to the NBA Playoffs almost every year he’s played in the league, appearing in five NBA Finals and winning three of them.  Chalmers, Bosh, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem and even Luol Deng all have been through the ringer known as the NBA Playoffs and aren’t going to have any issue playing under the brighter lights that come on once the regular season ends.  Championship experience is something that can’t be bought but it can certainly be helpful to the younger and greener players that have cracked Miami’s rotation this year.

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Veteran Leadership

(Source: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Source: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

There is no arguing who the leaders are on the Heat.  Wade and Haslem, the co-captains in Miami, are the roots to the tree, the foundation on which the team’s successes are built.  They have been in the NBA as part of the Heat franchise for over a decade and embrace working with the younger players and helping their respective careers along.  Aside from the co-captains, Bosh and Andersen are also there to mentor the younger players along and keep everyone on the same page heading towards the postseason.

Dwyane Wade

(Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

(Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The way that Wade has been playing over the past month, he absolutely deserves his own category as a reason why the Heat will make the playoffs.  After battling injures over the past couple seasons, Wade is finally healthy and able to perform up to the very high standards that he sets for himself. D-Wade has scored at least 25 points in each of his last six games and is averaging 26.9 points per game during the month of March, the third highest average in the NBA during that span.  He’s also averaging 15 points on 54% shooting during his last five second halves, showing that he has plenty of gas left in the tank and can still be relied upon to close out games for Miami.

Solid Coaching

(Source: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Source: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Miami’s coaching staff is led by Erik Spoelstra and during his time with the Heat, which spans all the way back to 1995 when he was hired as a video coordinator, he has provided the franchise with all of aforementioned bullet points.  He’s a leader with plenty of big game experience that puts an emphasis on team chemistry and unity.  Spoelstra has surrounded himself with a top-level coaching staff that includes several former NBA players and some of the brightest up-and-coming coaches that will eventually be lured away from the Heat to be head coaches elsewhere.  It helps that Spoelstra has been taught and guided by the man, the myth, the legend…Pat Riley, who has a hand in almost everything that Miami does from up in the front office all the way down the practice court.

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